It will be because she is an enthusiast mask collector that Luisa Valenzuela wrote the exquisite novel The Sardinian mask (2012), on the Sardinian origin of Juan Domingo Perón. In the house of the talented writer, the walls of one of her environments, the one where she writes and reads, are covered with masks of all kinds. One of them, the author herself has assured, looks like Perón’s face in profile. He found it by chance on a trip to Italy and, without hesitation, brought it to him.
In the book, which these days is available at the Dickens bookstore on Corrientes avenue at a more than accessible price ($ 150), the author addresses with mastery and elegant humor, the genealogy, history and origin of the most important Argentine military and politician of the last century, if it is not it of the history of the country. Valenzuela, who was in charge of the opening speech of the Book Fair in 2017, It takes the juice out of the confusing origin of Perón, controversy that historians have contributed to enrich for years: was he born in Lobos in 1895, in Roque Pérez in 1893 or on the island of Sardinia, Italy, some year in the late nineteenth century?
Luisa Valenzuela at her home in 2010. On the back walls, dozens of masks are hanging: the writer collects them. Photo Clarín Archive
With the controversy raised, the seed remains, which has been sown word by word Valenzuela, to give life to a fiction (but is it really a fiction?). In the novel, José López Rega, el Brujo, reappears, to whom the author also gave prominence in Lizard tail, his famous 1983 work.
At the Dickens bookstore (Corrientes 1375), you can get “The Sardinian Mask”, by Luisa Valenzuela, for $ 150. Photo Juano Tesone
In an interview with Clarín at the end of 2019, on the occasion of the awarding of the Carlos Fuentes Medal that the author received at the Guadalajara Book Fair and the Carlos Fuentes International Award that she also obtained that year (she was the first female writer to receive it ), Valenzuela He said that he was working on a new fiction about the origin and ancestry of López Rega, which would complete a kind of “Trilogy of evil”.
With a mask in hand, Luisa Valenzuela, at the Sardinian carnival, which has served as the inspiration for the book “The Sardinian Mask”. Photo Clarín Archive
In The Sardinian mask, the Sorcerer tries to make the General remember his childhood, a period that he has forgotten, and repressed more than forgotten, and sniff, delve, delve into his true origin. She induces him to this introspection, using witchcraft techniques, during June 1973, during his full stay at Quinta 17 de Octubre, in the Puerta de Hierro neighborhood, in Madrid, shortly before returning to the country.
And then the Perón we know was born in Argentina or was he born in Italy, came to the country as a boy and occupied, as if he were a spiritual medium, the place of the real Juan Domingo, the one who was born here, for whom Juana Sosa Toledo, his mother, planned a military career but a tragic and fatal horse accident frustrated? From all these mysteries the novel is made, where Isabelita, Evita’s corpse, and a set of masks and carnival characters that will advance the plot.
“The Sardinian Mask”, by Luisa Valenzuela (Seix Barral, $ 150).